Many years ago the wellknown archaelogist, Mr. I. Magined, discovered some huge caves in the Atlas Mountains. There he unearthed several large slabs of stone engraved with strange and mystic signs. By dint of incessant labour he has succeeded in deciphering these hieroglyphics and established the fact that these slabs were the diary of Japhet, Noah’s son.

One part of the diary describes the Bridge tournament which took place in Noah’s Ark and we are now in a position to give a full account of this historic event. Here is an extract from that part of Japhet’s diary which refers to this remarkable contest.

The animals, deprived of their freedom and placed in such unusual circumstances, became more and more restless. They reached such a dangerous state of excitement that something had to be done to pacify them. After a conference we decided to arrange a Bridge pair-contest in order to distract the agitated animals.

Besides those taking part in the tournament there were a number of parasites who were content to remain » kibitzers.» The woodpeckers did not participate because they preferred to play knockrummy. The zebras were employed as travelling score-sheets and lent a helping hand to the management.

The tournament was unfortunately interrupted by several disturbing incidents. The giraffes had to be disqualified at the start because after the first few minutes they knew all their opponents’ cards. The horses, too, were expelled for chewing the clover signs off the club cards. The unicorns unhappily did no survive the tournament. They had the misfortune to be drawn against the lions in the 13th round and were too slow in getting to the table. The lions, tired of waiting, pounced on their opponents when they did arrive and simply devoured them. (This is obviously the reason that the unicorn is now
extinct.-Eo. ).

The individual character of each animal was reflected in its distinctive method of play. The kangaroos for example, indulged mostly in jumping bids, whilst the chameleons showed their technique by changing suits on every possible occasion. The monkeys were up to all sorts of tricks and were very quick picking up conventions, but the result was chaos and confusion.

An interesting hand was played by the ravens against the foxes in the 15th round. (This story bears a striking resemblance to the well-known Aesop fable.- Eo.).

 10 4
 10 4 3
 J 5 2
 A Q J 7 5
 K 8 2
 K J 9 8 6 2
 7 4
 9 4
 Q 9 7 5
 Q 7
 10 9 8 3
 K 10 2
 A J 6 3
 A 5
 A K Q 6
 8 6 3

The ravens played North-South and the foxes East-West. The ravens bid Two No-trumps which the foxes doubled.

West-Fox attacked with the 8, his partner covered with the Q and South held up. East returned his 7, driving out South-Raven’s A. South cashed his four Diamond Honours. West discarded the 2 and the 6 (!), North the 4. South now played a small Club and finessed.

East-Fox gave the 2 and began to lament: » Oh, raven, how lucky you are ! Now you’ll make lots of overtricks. My partner’s double was sheer nonsense. He didn’t know how perfectly well you play. It’s a top score for you, I can see.»

The unsuspecting raven fell into the trap. At that moment he had six tricks in the bag and two more sure winners, the black Aces. But the raven, cajoled by the flattery of the fox and believing in his lamentations, played for the overtricks.

Dropping the cheese out of his mouth, he re-entered his own hand with the Ace of Spades and repeated the Club finesse. The crafty East took the trick, returned a Spade and West made all the remaining tricks to defeat the contract.

The wolves played North-South in the following hand against the lambs:

 A K 6 4 2
 A K 6 4 2
 Q 4
 10 5
 J 10 8 7
 A 7 5
 10 8 7 5
 J 8 7
 8 3 2
 K J 9 6 4 3
 Q 9 3
 Q 9 3
K J 10 9 6
 Q 2

 All other North-South pairs bid 6 and in each case the West player doubled. Each other

North-South pair finally landed in a contract of 6 and made it. It was only the timid West Lamb who did not double. All he could do was to bleat a feeble pass. The wolves played in 6 and went down because West made the A and a trump trick.

When the wolves looked at the travelling score sheet, they were furious to find themselves bottom, which they attributed to the unsportsmanlike behaviour of the lambs. They protested vehemently to the judges, but all their objections were overruled. 

The tournament lasted several days and nights but was never finished because the snails had not got beyond the fifth round and were still engaged playing the tortoises when the waters subsided and the Ark came to rest on Mount Ararat.»

Thus ends Japhet’s story of the first recorded Bridge Tournament. If it ,is not logical, it is at least zoological.